The former Saab plant in Trollhättan, Sweden, hasn't built a car since 2013, but it could be up and running again if current owner NEVS finds success with its new Sango self-driving car.
The Sango is a six-seat shuttle that NEVS plans to operate on a trial basis in the Swedish capital Stockholm starting in late 2021. The vehicles will operate at SAE Level 4 self-driving capability, meaning they will be able to drive on their own, though likely in limited “geo-fenced” areas.
Autocar reported Thursday that NEVS is looking to build Sangos at the Trollhättan plant in the longer term, citing comments made by Anna Haupt, head of mobility solutions at NEVS and the company's new Pons mobility division.
“The potential production of Sango is enormous. We are in a transition now as we move from internal combustion engines to battery-electric vehicles and we also see the switch to mobility services. The total production of mobility vehicles will be huge,” she said.
NEVS starts production of 2014 Saab 9-3
NEVS originally acquired Saab in 2012 following a bankruptcy sale, with a plan was to continue building Saab cars in Sweden, along with production in China. The company managed to resume production of the 9-3 in Trollhättan in 2013, but soon ran into its own cash troubles and had to halt things.
After courting a number of suitors, NEVS was finally bought out by Chinese conglomerate Evergrande in 2019. In June, Evergrande announced plans to acquire 100% of the shares of NEVS, valuing the company at about $2.2 billion. Evergrande primarily deals in the health, retail and real estate sectors but is looking to diversify into car production. It also owns a major stake in EV startup Faraday Future.
NEVS currently builds components for electric cars and charging infrastructure and reported a loss of $335 million in 2019. Part of the reason for the huge loss is due to NEVS's acquisitions of in-wheel electric motor company Protean Electric and 20% of Koenigsegg.
Although NEVS no longer has the rights to use the Saab name, which is owned by the Saab defense company, it has hinted at launching cars under its own NEVS brand.